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Three sentenced in mortgage fraud scheme

Columbia SC, - Three people who lived in Lexington and Richland have been sentenced to prison time and were ordered to pay approximately $1.5 million in restitution to their victims after they pled guilty to defrauding mortgage lenders recently.

Acting U.S. Attorney Beth Drake said Wednesday that Robert J. Sellers Jr., 62, of Columbia, Marlyn Hammett, 68, of West Columbia, and Amy Wilson, 51, of Swansea, were sentenced in federal court for conspiring to commit fraud on mortgage loan applications.

U.S. District Judge Margaret B. Seymour of Columbia sentenced Sellers to 12 months and one day in prison and must also serve three years of supervised release. She also ordered him to pay more than $702,300 in restitution to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Federal Housing Administration (FHA).

Hammett was sentenced to six months in prison and three years of supervised release and was ordered to pay more than $702,300 in restitution to the agencies.

Wilson was sentenced to six months in prison and three years of supervised release. She was ordered to pay $144,640 restitution as well.

The governments’ prosecutors said the defendants conspired to defraud lending institutions and HUD/FHA by falsifying documents of FHA loan applicants. They also fraudulently providing the FHA-required 3.5 percent down payment funds for buyers of their properties.

The conspirators concealed the origin of borrowers’ down-payment funds and fabricated statements on various loan applications and other documents that were filed, the prosecutors said.

As a result of this criminal conspiracy, dozens of buyers were able to purchase homes they couldn’t afford. Eventually many were forced into foreclosure on those properties.

Prosecutors in the case were assisted by agents from HUD, the Office of Inspector General and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

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